The official website of "The Vagina Monologues" states: "The word 'vagina' is indeed used frequently in the play ... a word that does indeed represent women both physically and metaphysically as a feminine being."
The script of the play goes even further, asserting that the clitoris
"is" me: "[She] told me my clitoris was not something I could
lose. It was me, the essence of me. It was both the doorbell to my house and
the house itself. I didn't have to find it. I had to be it. Be it. Be my
These quotes are at the heart of the message "The Vagina Monologues," and this is precisely the message that I oppose.
I am well aware that the goal of the V-Day campaign is to raise awareness and eradicate violence against women, and I support this excellent goal. I don't support, however, the means by which the campaign goes about its goals — namely, promoting the production of "The Vagina Monologues." It is disturbing to me that the content of the play is focused on representing women solely by their sexual organs.
How does the word vagina represent a woman metaphysically? It appears to do so by reducing a woman's very essence solely to a sexual object. Moreover, this sexual object is detached from any authentic notion of female sexuality. "The Vagina Monologues" depicts sexuality in purely naturalistic terms. It details the biology of the vagina, its role in female physiology and its supposedly rightful function as an affirmation of the value of women. "The Vagina Monologues" misconstrue femininity and present the essence of women as simply looking for pleasure in the sexual organ.
"The Vagina Monologues" tell me that, as a woman, I am my vagina and should seek to affirm myself by looking for ways to stimulate my sexual organs. The notion that the true dignity and freedom of a woman is primarily found in a wholehearted embrace of a sexuality that prizes her sexual prowess and capabilities is not only wrong, but also degrading. "The Vagina Monologues" forget what sex is all about. Sex isn't simply about generating a series of pleasurable experiences in my body; it's about making a gift of myself to another person and receiving the gift of the other person in my very body.
What do "The Vagina Monologues" really mean when they advocate that a woman's dignity is found in her sexual appeal? They mean that a woman is not truly a woman — that she is not truly herself — until she pursues all the bodily satisfactions and physical pleasures that sex can afford her. Her intellect, talents and hopes are no longer significant parts of her being. Only this pursuit of sexual pleasure will complete her.
But this is simply false. Most women I know are not simply satisfied with chance sexual encounters and random sexual pleasure. They do not envision themselves as a sexual object meant for sexual pleasure. Rather, they desire committed relationships, in true love, with guys they can trust.
I am not suggesting that women should deny their sexuality. I am simply questioning "The Vagina Monologues" ' notion that female sexuality is ultimately about sex appeal and refashioning women as sexual objects. A woman can express her sexuality in more appropriate ways by placing it within the sphere of her femininity: her desire to love another person, her ability to give life, her propensity to nurture and care for others and, of course, her specific capacities like her intellect, interests and aspirations. This femininity is what it truly means to be a woman. Women are beautiful, noble and important because of who they inherently are, not because of how they perform sexually. The beautiful reality that women are the only givers of life is something to be particularly appreciated. These truths — a woman's inherent dignity and special role as bearer of new life — are the reasons to staunchly oppose any violence against women.
I share the overarching goal of "The Vagina Monologues" to stop violence against women worldwide. Women are still oppressed and horribly mistreated by means of rape, female infanticide, dowry deaths and other vicious acts. However, performing a play that affirms a woman's worth by promoting a false sexuality that effectively reduces her to a sexual organ is not the way to end violence against women. This reduction objectifies women and thereby perpetuates a soft violence against the dignity of women.